And Just Like That — Everything Changed
When the balance of power shifts in the world, you expect it to be a Big Thing. Am I right? Bombs bursting in air? But turning points are often very subtle. And this one happened just now.
It’s “time to say goodbye” to the United States, said Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on a visit to China, where he and President Xi Jinping are turning the recently-frosty tide with bilateral agreements, while Washington now gets the cold shoulder.
Duterte spoke to the press in Beijing on Wednesday, on the eve of talks with Xi. There was scant information about what was to come on Thursday, but Duterte’s conference coincided with talk of unprecedented agreements being written up – particularly the granting to the Philippines the use of Scarborough Shoal territories – a disputed resource-rich area in the South China Sea.
The firebrand Duterte has been slowly edging away from Washington after coming to power in late June. A series of spats and heated remarks finally resulted in his making good on the promise to mend ties with historic rival, China.
It's all over the news, but I'm sourcing it from Russia Today, because I can and because the US froze all their foreign bank accounts yesterday. It's not often that geopolitics makes the news in the US, and this story might be gone in a few hours, too.
But that won't change history. Our next proxy war just went kaput. So much for the Pivot to Asia. Was the Philippines that important? Yes. It was key, geopolitically speaking. This pulls the rug out from under the TPP, as well.
“Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. So time to say goodbye, my friend,” Duterte said, as members of the Filipino expat community in Beijing listened in the audience. He was of course referring to the military presence enjoyed by Washington at a number of Filipino bases – something he’s been particularly vocal against since September.
“No more American interference. No more American exercises. What for?” he told the audience.
“I will not go to America anymore. I will just be insulted there,” he added, before doing something no political analyst thought a world leader would ever do once, let alone twice: calling US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” again.
Duterte is not a hero in any sense. His world view is small. He is not an evolved man. It will be easy to smear him once they crank up the US propaganda machine, tomorrow.
He is about to become the American people's next boogyman and take up residence under their beds. In a few weeks, Americans will hate him more than they do Putin.
But Duterte knows what the people of the Philippines need and want. And he is bringing it to them in a big way. It's none of the US's business, and there is nothing that the US can do about it in any case. All of Asia is watching, and any move the US makes will be the wrong move. With the sole exception of sending its war ships home.
Even at this moment, there are protests against the US military in South Korea and Japan. Those are the other two real allies the US has in that part of the world.
Duterte has issued a series of fiery remarks warning Obama to stay out of it and stop dictating Philippines policy.
He’s been touting the economic and political benefits of a relationship with China ever since.
“What kept us from China was not our own making. I will charter a new course,” the Philippine leader said as quoted by the PhilStar.
The two countries are expected to sign over two dozen of agreements, including the above-mentioned South China Sea concession – a massive step for China, which was defiant in the face of a Hague court ruling in July, dictating that no one could be the sole claimant of the territories.
Peace on Earth. Or, at least to Asia.